Vauxhall Ampera given five-star safety rating

The five-door hatchback, which goes on sale in the UK early in 2012, has received the award during the EuroNCAP safety tests, the premier European new car safety tests.

Testers at the facility praised the Ampera for strong performance in adult occupant safety, child occupant safety, pedestrian safety and safety assist.

After becoming the first ever car to achieve a maximum score on the side pole impact test, the car also passed new electric battery tests designed to ensure the battery does not become dangerous after a collision.

This, says Vauxhall, is because the battery can be found in the centre of the car, providing an even weight distribution and protecting it in the event of an accident.

The Vauxhall Ampera extended-range electric car is the first of its kind in the UK. Like a conventional electric car, it is capable of travelling on purely electric power only.

This is possible for 40 miles until the battery runs down. Once this happens, a small petrol engine starts up to recharge the battery while the car is in motion.

The Vauxhall Ampera has a total range of 350 miles and can be either charged up using electricity or filled with petrol, adding a flexibility and range not seen before with electric cars.

It also means CO2 emissions with the petrol engine running are below 50g/km and fuel economy is over 100mpg.

The car, which will be exempt from road tax and the London congestion charge, boasts a spacious, four-seat interior with more premium materials than a standard Vauxhall.

Despite this, the Vauxhall Ampera will cost £28,995 when it goes on sale in the UK thanks to a £5,000 discount as part of the government’s plug-in grant.